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The Sweetest Thing

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For every bride-to-be, creating the perfect cake is one of the essential parts of her wedding fantasy. From fondant masterpieces to sugar flowers and cake toppers, these sweet treats truly are the icing on every wedding. So when it comes to planning your own cake, experts say to follow your own heart and your taste buds.

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For Sarah Lofgren, owner of Flour Girl Wedding Cakes in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., designing a cake is all about the couple.

"I always make sure to ask couples what is most important to them in terms of their cake. I also tell them not to think of their guests in this decision," she says. "It is their wedding and they should choose something that makes them truly happy, in design and especially in flavor. After all, no guest is going to hate eating cake, no matter what kind it is."

In today's pastry world, the possibilities are endless. From the traditional tiered cakes, cupcake towers and carved cakes, to vegan cakes and gluten-free confections, couples can literally have anything.

Donna Joy Varney, a pastry chef and culinary sugar artist in Sedona, Ariz., loves to make customized sugar pieces for her clients. She's created accents as specific as sugar hibiscus flowers. "Brides always want something uniquely made for them," she says.

To find the best design to match your overall theme or colors, experts recommend looking at an individual cake artist's portfolio, or bridal magazines and Web sites. Couples also should consider the venue for weather conditions and ease of transport.

"Popular choices today are stacked cakes with modern or minimalist detail, as well as funkier topsy-turvy style 'Mad Hatter' cakes," Lofgren says.

Just as cakes have evolved, so have cake toppers. "[They] can range from traditional bride and groom figurines, fresh or sugar flower arrangements, monograms or custom toppers such as wired beads or crystals or animal figurines," Lofgren says. Varney has created custom-made toppers out of sugar, or even used retro toppers from a bride's grandmother's wedding cake.

In terms of flavor, it's important for couples to remember that sample cake slices may actually taste fresher than their day-of cake. Many bakers will freeze the cake before the big day, leaving couples with a slightly different taste than what they originally chose. Varney, though, bakes her cakes fresh, and they oftentimes taste even better than the sample cakes she gives couples. "We want couples to be blown away by the taste on their wedding day," she said.

When considering a bakery, couples should always ask when the cake is made or if it is frozen prior to delivery. Varney recommends that cakes be baked as close as possible to the actual wedding.

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